February 2000 News

People block Tawi bridge with dead bodies of blast victims

12 February 2000
Daily Excelsior

JAMMU: A large number of people including family members and relatives of last nightís blast victims today blocked Tawi bridge alongwith dead bodies protesting against the Government failure to check explosions.

Meanwhile, death toll in the vegetable market blast near GGM Science College today rose to five with one more injured succumbing to his wounds in the Medical College hospital.

Official reports said hundreds of people including women and children carrying dead bodies of four blast victims, all hailing from Krishna Nagar locality opposite GGM Science College, marched towards Tawi bridge at 1330 hours and sat in the middle of the bridge disrupting vehicular movement on the always busy bridge.

The protestants were shouting slogans against Home Minister L K Advani, Chief Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah, PDD authorities and officials of police and civil administration for their failure to protect the lives of innocent civilians. They also regretted that not even a single official of civil or police administration bothered to visit the house of blast victims till they started the cremation procession en-masse.

Traffic movement in the entire Jammu City was thrown out of gear due to blockade of Tawi bridge. Large queues of stranded vehicles were seen at Vikram Chowk, Asia Crossing, Vinayak Bazaar, Jewel Chowk and Bus Stand area as agitated people, who were joined by some political leaders and social workers, sat on the bridge shouting anti-Government and anti-police slogans.

"What to talk of Chief Minister or Home Minister not even the junior officials of civil or police administra-tion visited us to console", said a wailing relative of one of the deceased expressing serious anguish over authorities indifferent attitude towards them.

"Itís only because that all the deceased were poor, the authorities didnít visit our houses", said another relative of the deceased. Most of the people, who had joined the procession, were of the view that Power Development Department (PDD) should be held responsible for the explosion and a murder case be registered against them. It was only due to power failure that militants succeeded in planting the explosive device, they observed.

Police officials including SSP Jammu Mr M A Anjum, SP City Mr Johnny Williams and DySP Bakshi Nagar Mr M H Malik rushed to Tawi bridge and tried to persuade the people to give up the blockade. People, however, insisted that civil officials should visit the spot and assure help to the dependents of blast victims.

After over 30 minutes of blockade, Divisional Commissioner Mr Anil Goswami and Deputy Commissioner Mr P K Tripathi reached the spot and disbursed ex-gratia cheques of Rs one lakh each among family members of deceased. They also assured the kins of victims that they will take up with the Government the issue of employment to one family member of each victim.

Regarding peopleís resentment against the PDD, the officials assured protestants that they will also take up with the Government the issue of power cuts during night. Following assurances, the people lifted their dharna after about one and a half hour and took the bodies to cremation group where the victims were cremated en-masse.

Meanwhile, death toll in the blast today rose to five with one more injured Ram Lal son of Dhani Ram, a resident of Krishna Nagar succumbing to his wounds in the Medical College hospital. His body was handed over to his family members after post-mortem in the hospital.

Three persons were killed on the spot in the blast while another had died in the hospital two hours after the explosion. Twenty injured were still admitted in the Medical College hospital and, of them, condition of two was said to be critical.

Meanwhile, police continued hectic investigations in the explosion. A police spokesman said some suspects have been rounded up during overnight raids conducted in different places in the City and its outskirts but no formal arrest had been made so far.

Police said the investigations also revealed that a suspected saboteur had come to the vegetable market about five minutes before the explosion. He took some vegetable, reportedly dropped a packet there carrying explosive device and disappeared. However, in view of total darkness in the area due to power failure, the shopkeepers couldnít notice the saboteur.

The blast was either triggered by a timer or with the help of a remote control, police said, adding splinters of the bomb collected from the spot were being examined to establish exact nature of the device. Going by the extent of damage the explosion caused, the material used in the bomb was suspected to be deadly RDX, they added.

Earlier in the morning, students of GGM Science College boycotted their classes and staged a dharna outside their college premises in protest against last nightís explosion near their college. After about half an hour long dharna, the students dispersed peacefully.

The students leaders including Bansi Lal Thakur, Sanjeev Kant, Mushtaq Ali Chowdhary, Abdul Malik, Vicky Manhas, Suresh Kumar and Bindly Jamwal assailed police for their failure to check the explosions. They also castigated the PDD for its failure to supply power which was also responsible for the blasts.


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